Hunter Mountain, a Vail-owned property in upstate New York, remained closed Thursday after ski patrollers were forced to remain away from the mountain due to COVID-19 concerns.
Hunter had been closed since Tuesday, but announced it would re-open on Friday.
“There is nothing simple about operating during a pandemic,” the resort posted on Facebook, “but we are committed first and foremost to the safety of our employees and guests. Again, we apologize for any inconvenience this situation has caused and appreciate the support of our guests, employees and community during this challenging time.”
The resort hasn’t said whether the situation was a COVID outbreak amidst the patrollers or if it was a close-contact protocol. But it does make you wonder if and when a similar scenario might arise in New England.
Not like we haven’t had our own concerns on the weather front. Black Mountain, in Jackson, N.H., has struggled to even open its old-school ground tow. Mad River Glen, in Waitsfield, Vt., was only able to open its famed Single Chair for the first time this season on Thursday.
Mix in the travel restrictions, (you can’t get INTO Vermont, or OUT of New Hampshire or Maine without quarantine) and it has, indeed, been a pretty rocky start to the 2020-21 skiing and riding season. I’ve got a pair of reservations on my Epic Pass this weekend at both Attitash and Wildcat. Despite holding out hope, I’m going to have to cancel both of them, due to responsibilities at home and the inability to lay low for 10 days after the fact.
COVID has certainly put a damper on the season thus far. At least for those who decide they’re above the protocols.
Cases in point: Here’s a reporter from WCAX in Burlington, Vt., asking a host of people in line at Killington if anybody was actually a resident of the state. Are we buying that everybody in this piece actually followed the rules? Please. Will we be smiling as much when the lifts shut down due to an outbreak? Doubt it.
Let’s just make this clear, unlike the head of a popular Facebook group who seems to think otherwise; journalists do not have a clear path to Vermont, New Hampshire, or anywhere in between. The aforementioned user and I recently got into a tiff due to his wildly inaccurate assessment that media (or, at least, the chief of a Facebook users group), were exempt from such rules. The person in question has since blocked me from his group, which is fine, especially based on his line of thinking.
Sorry, I will not back down from such a thought. Especially if it means the rest of us suffer.
This was the same person who, last March, went on a vengeance against any resort still running the lifts in the midst of the pandemic. Now that it works to his benefit, the situation has changed.
There’s going to be a point this season when a New England mountain has to close due to COVID concerns. Prepare for it.
Hunter was the first. It won’t be the last.
Can we at least try and follow protocol so that we limit the amount of times we have to go through this?
January issue is live
The digital issue of January’s new England Ski Journal is live. I’m particularly proud of how my piece on skiing in the Berkshires turned out. Jon Schaefer, general manager at Berkshire East and Catamount, was great help in bringing the focus back to Massachusetts ad Western Mass., which really has been overlooked as a skiing destinations. Check it out here.
Odds and ends
Steve Wright, general manager of Vermont’s Jay Peak Resort, was recently on NBC discussing the challenges of running a ski resort during a pandemic….VT Digger has a report on how local regulations may (or may not be) being followed….Bloomberg’s Ferdinando Giugliano says skiing is a “terrible idea right now.”
New England Ski Journal on TV
If you haven’t caught it yet, here’s the season premiere of New England Ski Journal TV, hosted by Meredith Gorman. We kick off the 2020-21 season with check-ins at Waterville Valley, Conway Scenic Railroad and Sunday River.